The Register-Herald, Beckley, West Virginia

Local News

May 25, 2013

Letter to Rahall notes FCI staffing

A local president of the American Federation of Government Employees has written Congressman Nick Rahall to express his concerns over what he believes to be understaffing and overcrowding at the Federal Correctional Institution in McDowell County.

Charlie Yates said he is concerned that “the value of money is perceivably more important than a human life,” as the inmate-to-staff ratio at FCI McDowell creates an unsafe work environment.

Yates said when the FCI was being built in Welch, officials told the community 337 people would be employed and 1,152 inmates would be housed, creating a staff-to-inmate ratio of 1 to 3.8.

“We currently house 1,658 inmates, which is well above what the agency stated would be housed there. The FCI population is approximately 30 percent more than the Institution was designed to house.”

According to Yates, 162 positions are designated for correctional officers, but only 136 are currently employed. After June 16, that number will drop to 128 due to staff promotions and resignations.

“We cannot safely and/or cost-effectively operate this institution with the critically low number of staff.”

After multiple unsuccessful attempts to reach Federal Bureau of Prisons officials, Yates decided to approach Rahall, D-W.Va., for help.

“The value of money is perceived more important than a human life, which is exactly what is in jeopardy with the management of this Institution.”

He said the institution is on a “hiring freeze,” but with these conditions, he is urging that an exception be made.

“It’s bare bones right now. When someone calls in sick, we’re unsure of how to fill in the post.”

Yates said if they are not allotted more employees soon, mandated overtime may become a reality, causing correctional officers to work 16-hour shifts.

“That could be dangerous in itself. An eight-hour shift is mentally draining for a correctional officer, much less a 16-hour shift.”

He said most correctional officers have an hour drive to work, so technically, the officers would be up and at it for 18 hours.

“They would be mentally and physically exhausted.”

Yates said he hopes some type of agreement can be arranged to allow FCI McDowell to hire some additional officers, and he hopes Rahall will work toward making that a possibility.

Chris Burke, public affairs specialist for the Federal Bureau of Prisons, offered the following comment: “All of our institutions are crowded as we continue to operate within our budget. Systemwide we are operating at 37 percent above rated capacity, while staffing levels at federal prisons are at 90 percent of authorized positions.”

— E-mail:


Text Only
Local News
  • Raleigh’s $19.6 million budget approved at special meeting

    Raleigh County’s $19.6 million budget for fiscal year 2014-15 is on the books. The budget and the levy rate were approved at a special county commission meeting Tuesday morning.

    April 16, 2014

  • Calendar — Wednesday, April 16, 2014

    April 16, 2014

  • Learn about advance directives at RGH

    Today is National Healthcare Decisions Day and personnel will be available at Raleigh General Hospital from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. to anyone interested in learning more about advance directives or who are ready to prepare them at no cost.

    April 16, 2014

  • Greenbrier Valley Famer’s market to open

    The Greenbrier Valley Farmers Market will be opening for the 2014 season Saturday at its “green space” on the corner of Arbuckle Lane and U.S. 219 in downtown Lewisburg.

    April 16, 2014

  • Oak Hill council discusses vacant buildings

    Oak Hill City Council met in regular session Monday to talk ordinance adoption and smoking issues reported in Oak Hill City Park, which was an issue recently raised to Oak Hill City Manager Bill Hannabass.

    April 16, 2014

  • Beckley’s emergency preparedness efforts still ongoing

    Although the City of Beckley Director of Emergency Services position was eliminated two months ago, the county is continuing Kevin Taylor’s emergency preparedness efforts.

    April 16, 2014

  • Old GHS building may get new life

    A Ronceverte school building that was shuttered by consolidation in 1992 may find new life as apartments for senior citizens, if plans floated by a Kentucky development firm come to fruition.

    April 16, 2014

  • Faculty recital set for Wednesday at Concord

    Concord University’s fine arts faculty will perform during a recital Wednesday at 7 p.m. in the Main Auditorium of the Alexander Fine Arts Building.

    April 15, 2014

  • Press conference Body found near Wyoming-Mercer county line

    Human skeletal remains have been recovered near the mountainous border of Mercer and Wyoming counties, officials said Monday.

    April 15, 2014 1 Photo

  • Mega-Site Project: Are we ready?

    The economic success of any area in West Virginia is dependent on many factors, but one essential element is an educated and trained workforce. And increasingly, an educated workforce doesn’t just mean people with four-year college degrees, but instead references residents who are proficient at ready-to-work skills in construction, health care and other fields.

    April 15, 2014